Series Rubber Match Between Twins vs Tiger Offers Two Way MLB Pick

Wednesday, July 20, 2016 2:10 PM UTC

Wednesday, Jul. 20, 2016 2:10 PM UTC

It has been a lost season for the Minnesota Twins, and this week it cost their general manager his job. The Twins close out a set in Detroit on Wednesday afternoon with the Tigers at -171 MLB odds with a total of 9.

Minnesota Twins vs Detroit Tigers

What You Need To Know
The team with the worst record in baseball is the Atlanta Braves, but they never expected to be competitive this season as they are in the midst of a full-blown rebuild ahead of the team's move to a new suburban Atlanta stadium next season. Yet the Braves were the first team to fire its manager this season, dumping Fredi Gonzalez in mid-May.

The team with the second-worst record in baseball is the Minnesota Twins, and they expected to be competitive this season after staying in the wild-card race right until the end in 2015 and with two very touted hitting prospects in Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano. However, it appears the job of second-year manager Paul Molitor is safe not just the rest of 2016 but for next year. That's what team owner and CEO Jim Pohlad said on Monday after it was announced the team had fired long-time GM Terry Ryan. Assistant GM Rob Antony has replaced Ryan on an interim basis. Not a huge surprise that Molitor is being kept as he did do a good job last year and is a Hall of Famer who played with the Twins the final three years of his career. His 3,000th hit came with them and Molitor led the AL with 225 hits at age 39 with Minnesota.

Ryan's biggest failure was failing to find consistent starting pitching as the Twins are last in the AL in runs allowed while also giving up the most home runs despite playing their home games at pitcher-friendly Target Field. Ricky Nolasco has been a major bust. Phil Hughes had one good year in 2014 but has hugely regressed and is now out for the season. Both were big-money free agents.

Firing a manager can really spur a team to play better for a while, but I don't expect to see the Twins improve the rest of the way after dumping Ryan. In fact, it would behoove the Twins to lose as much as possible the rest of 2016 to beat out the Braves for the top overall pick in what is expected to be a strong 2017 first-year player draft.


Probable Pitchers
It's quite possible this will be the final start in a Twins uniform for Ervin Santana as he is being shopped ahead of the Aug. 1 trade deadline and likely to be moved. The Baltimore Orioles and Kansas City Royals have been scouting Santana heavily. He is just 3-8 this year with a 4.12 ERA but is 2-1 with a 2.18 ERA in his past five outings. Last time out, Santana gave up three earned and six hits over 5.1 innings against Cleveland. He left after taking a line drive off his left wrist but he's apparently OK. The Twins are 1-6 on MLB odds in Santana's past seven vs. the AL Central.

Santana hasn't faced the AL Central rival  Tigers this season. Last year, he was 1-0 with a 4.50 ERA in three starts against them. Ian Kinsler is a career .308 hitter off him with a homer and six RBIs in 65 at-bats. Victor Martinez is 10-for-31 against Santana with two homers and five RBIs. Miguel Cabrera is 6-for-22 against him with a homer and five walks.

Detroit likely will be a buyer in the trade market as it's second in the division to Cleveland and also right in the wild-card race. The Tigers could use pitching, both a starter and a reliever. The Tigers start ace Justin Verlander (9-6, 3.91) in this game. He last pitched Friday vs. Kansas City and was very good, allowing one earned run and four hits over seven innings with 10 strikeouts. Verlander was firing on all cylinders as his average fastball was at 95 mph, his best average fastball velocity in the past three seasons. Verlander has four 10 strikeout games this year after having just one in the previous two seasons combined. The Tigers are 5-1 on MLB picks in Verlander's past six at home.

Verlander has made one start vs. the Twins this year, beating them on May 18 in Detroit, allowing three runs and six hits over 7.1 innings with 10 strikeouts. Joe Mauer is a career .338 hitter off him with three homers and 13 strikeouts in 71 at-bats. Brian Dozier is 4-for-19 against him. Eduardo Nunez is 5-for-12 with two doubles.

For my MLB Pick, I'm going with the Tigers and 'under.' Detroit is 12-4 in Verlander's past 16 vs. the Twins. The 'under' is 3-1-2 in his past six at home against them. 


Free MLB Pick: Tigers -167 and Under 9
Best Lines Offered: at BetOnline (for Moneyline) and at Heritage (for Total)

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